Authenticity as an Entrepreneur

booksThe buzzword in big venues today is Authenticity. Authenticity is praised in TED talks, self-improvement programs, and more recently business. But what is the value of authenticity in your startup? Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and world expert on power dynamics, says “Your job as a leader is not to be authentic or genuine or true to yourself, your job is to be true to what the situation requires of you.”

Many view authenticity as disclosing their deepest emotions to others. That’s what Pfeffer implied in his talk. And according to Pfeffer, signaling your doubts and fears to investors is the last thing you want to do. So is authenticity worth pursuing, or is it best to discount altogether?

To understand if there’s value, let’s explore the root of the word. Authenticity derives from the Greek word authentikos: original and genuine. How similar this sounds to another word we know: authorship.

Authenticity in startups is authoring your vision. Although feelings make up a portion of your genuine self, so do your dreams, drive, and ambition. Great investors like David Rose and Marc Andreessen look for visionary entrepreneurs fueled by dreams and drive.

Authenticity has many facets. Be authentic with emotions around friends and family: we all need emotional support to enjoy success. But when you stand in front of investors, be authentic with your drives. You establish credibility and open floodgates to funding.